29 DEC 2016:  Around the globe destinations are prepping for monumental celebrations that seem to come around once in a blue moon. Whether it’s a country, region, or perhaps even a leading attraction prepare for a year of blockbuster events and milestone anniversaries.

The big travel themes to watch for include bridges and trains, the birthing of nations like our own and that of Finland; the death anniversary of legends like Elvis Presley (40th) and Ernesto “Che” Guevara (50th); the year of music and literature from the 200th anniversary of the Silent Night composition to Glenn Miller’s golden hit Chattanooga Choo Choo topping sales in 1942. On the books side, the wide selection ranges from Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy (200 years) to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series which celebrates two decades.

Here’s to a new year of discoveries.  Let’s raise a glass to toast some of them.

The Global Events list:

150th anniversary
Some of us remember 1967, the year Canada turned 100.  There was Expo 67, a handful of Centennial projects, and the Centennial Flame debuted on Parliament Hill. Now in our radiant sesquicentennial, be prepared for a cross-country showdown that will culminate with the grandest spectacle of them all in our nation’s capital.  Here are 150 Reasons to visit Ottawa http://www.ottawa2017.ca/ plus of course province-wide events happening such as at Canada’s birthplace of Confederation, http://www.discovercharlottetown.com/ and tons more.
Date: July 1 and year-round

National Parks of Canada
To help everyone wave the flag Parks Canada has waived admission fees. Visitors can enjoy free admission to national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada throughout 2017. Breathtaking spots include Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve and more. Order your free Discovery Pass

Montreal: 375
Need to know the scoop on events and attractions tailored around Montreal’s big birthday, head to www.375mtl.com. Some of the blockbuster crowd pleasers will be the world premiere of Pink Floyd’s cult classic Another Brick in the Wall performed by the Opera de Montreal, a new cruise terminal and new hotel openings.
A total solar eclipse will cross the USA on August 21, 2017

Dubbed the “Great American Total Solar Eclipse” the event will darken skies all the way from Oregon to South Carolina, along a stretch of land about 113 kilometres wide. Towns along the path stretching from Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Southern Illinois, Tennessee and South Carolina are prepping for the rare event. The last total solar eclipse in the USA occurred in 1979.  

Wyoming is one of the few states with the entire central region within the “path of totality” (the longest viewing time) and some of the clearest skies in the country. Hotels along the path are mostly sold out with some exceptions. Tropical Sails (http://tropicalsails.com/) has several tours that include quirky geek spots like the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho as well as overnights at the Teton Springs Lodge and Spa and the historic Hatchet Resort in Moran, WY.

Cheyenne, Wyoming’s 150th anniversary
An original “Hell on Wheels” town settled during the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, Cheyenne (www.cheyenne.org) often dubbed as the US’s railroad capital is home to a number of one-of-a-kind museums, historic hotels and mansions, and western adventure.  The city is set to host the famous 10-day Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo, a Western celebration nicknamed “the Daddy of ‘em All." It draws nearly 200,000 visitors from around the world, including volunteers who fly in from Rome every year. Guests can even take a free behind the scenes rodeo tour (http://www.cfdrodeo.com/event/behind-the-chutes-tour/) that follows the path of the bulls and broncos as the animals are rounded up and threaded through the maze of gates on their way to the chutes and out into the arena with cowboy in tow.

150 years: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard
Harvard’s Peabody Museum, a trove of treasures and rare collections culled by founder George Peabody who was a generous sort (there are 3 Peabody Museums in Massachusetts alone), will be showcasing commemorative events including a new exhibition opening on April 22 in the Ivey-league town of Cambridge.

75 years: Alaska Highway
Traversing over 2,000 km from Dawson Creek, through northeastern B.C. and Yukon, to the Alaska border, the Alaska Highway Corridor is a place rich in history, culture and heritage. Known for its stunning vistas of mountain ranges, rolling forests and pristine waterways, it’s the ultimate scenic corridor. The big celebrations are scheduled in July.

70th annual North Carolina Azalea Festival
Nothing says spring better than a spring garden party. That’s what the folks in Wilmington, North Carolina have shown with their magnificent gardens full of azaleas. Expect colourful parades, street fairs, charming home and garden tours, and the coronation of the festival prince and princess. Special events planned on April 5-9

50 years: Summer of Love
In this homage to free love where hippie hanging dreamers held hands and sang songs among other unnamed activities, one county in California is dialling back the clock. It’s bound to be a not-to-be-missed trip.  Watch for concerts, exhibitions, special events from May-September. The year will also highlight the 50th anniversary of the Monterey International Pop Festival in which insiders report music history was made. A young Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and The Grateful Dead headlined back then. Trippy events scheduled all summer. The main event: June 16-18

San Francisco’s Summer of Love: 50
Explore the summer that changed everything. That’s when nearly 100,000 young people converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood, turning San Francisco into the epicenter of a cultural phenomenon known as the Summer of Love. During this transformative time, music, fashion, art and new ideas flourished and there was a feeling that everything was possible.  That feeling never left the city.  Exactly 50 years after the Love Pageant Rally, a spirited gathering in the Panhandle of Golden Gate Park that helped put into the motion the events that led to the Summer of Love, San Francisco Travel and the California Historical Society (CHS) are announcing a year-long celebration of the transformative Summer of 1967. Now be a part of the flashback.

Columbia, Maryland is 50
One of America's first planned communities, the brainchild of the late developer Jim Rouse, Columbia was also recently named as the Number 1 Best Place to Live in the US by Money Magazine.  Home of the Merriweather Post Pavilion which is considered among the finest outdoor amphitheatres, it too is celebrating 50 years in 2017. Merriweather Post Pavilion (http://www.merriweathermusic.com/ ) was designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry, the genius behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The grand fete: June 21

Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150th birthday
The man behind the Prairie style architectural design and who grew up in and around the Madison, Wisconsin area will have monumental tributes. Expect retrospectives of his life and work at major galleries and institutions including MOMA in New York where he designed the iconic Guggenheim Museum.  A new Frank Lloyd Wright trail which covers nine stops of southern Wisconsin including the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, his last design, is a fascinating self-guided tour.
Anniversary: June 8, 1867

New Mexico Museum of Art: Centennial Year
In the city dubbed “The City Different,” a.k.a. Santa Fe, this landmark art institution with its unique Pueblo Style Revival architecture is the state’s oldest art museum. The state has declared November 24 as a state holiday in honour of the museum’s opening. Organizers report a huge celebration is scheduled on November 25, 2017 along with other year-round celebrations.

40 years of Elvis’ Death
Everyone living in 1977 remembers the day The King of Rock’n’Roll died on August 16. The news sent shockwaves around the globe. In commemoration of his passing, Elvis Presley’s Graceland is prepping for Elvis Week in Memphis, Tennessee.  Each August, tens of thousands of Elvis fans from around the world gather in Memphis for Elvis Week. This August will mark the 40th anniversary of Elvis’ death, so as with other landmark anniversaries this year’s will be bigger than usual.

Mall of America: 25 years
Revered as the nation’s biggest mall and a top tourist attraction, the Mall of America in Bloomington Minnesota which first opened its mega doors in 1992 will be celebrating its 25th birthday with a big bang. In this mecca of retail, the mall spans the size of seven Yankee Stadium’s visitors can expect year-round events and promotions recognizing this milestone all year.
The special date: August 11

Centennial birthday of Andrew Wyeth
One of the most beloved and significant artists in American history, the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Pennsylvania and the Seattle Art Museum will organize an exhibition of over 100 of his finest works entitled Andrew Wyeth: In Retrospect; on display at the Brandywine River Museum of Art from June 24th through September 17, 2017.

Tours of Andrew Wyeth’s Studio are also available.  Given to the Museum by Betsy James Wyeth, Andrew’s wife, many of his most important works were painted in this studio.

US Virgin Islands Centennial
It’ll be 100 years since the US Virgin Islands received its charter. That’s when these islands of the Virgin Islands were transferred from Denmark to the United States. The Territory is hosting various events and activities to commemorate the occasion from now through the end of 2017.   The USVI Tourism Office has a special $300 travel promotion in spending credits to use for historical/cultural tours and activities, as well as a commemorative “Centennial” souvenir for travellers visiting in March during a three-night minimum stay. The package is available for booking through October 1, 2017 for travel from January 2, 2017 – December 31, 2017.
For more USVI centennial travel information visit

Erie Canal Bicentennial – Lockport, New York
To help with the fanfare and buzz behind Erie Canal's construction (est. July 4, 1817) in Lockport, New York, the city will launch a new zipline across the canal. Lockport is where the famous ‘Flight of Five’ lock chambers were engineered as a way for the canal to ascend the Niagara escarpment. Visitors can take guided tours of the canal as well as visit an interactive museum that focuses on the sheer marvel of the canal’s construction and its important role in opening up western America for settlement.

75th anniversary of Chattanooga Choo Choo reaching gold
On February 10, Chattanooga, TN celebrates the 78-rpm RCA Victor Bluebird Label which became the first track to be certified a gold disc for 1.2 million sales on February 10, 1942.  Chattanooga is also in the throes of a major $20-million restoration of its iconic building (http://www.choochoo.com/) which will include new restaurants, a lounge, and the nearby Song Birds Guitars museum (http://www.songbirdsguitars.com/ ) opening in March. It’s poised to be the world’s first museum to feature the most complete collection of rare and historically significant guitars.

The United Nations declares 2017 as the Year of Sustainable Tourism

Merida: 475 years old
Experience the three-week-long Mérida Fest, the celebration of Mérida’s 475th anniversary as a city. Named the American Capital of Culture for 2017, Mérida offers an array of must-experience art and culture. Stroll along the streets and be astounded by the magnificent cultural displays. With nearly 900 artists participating, the festival showcases the diversity of the city’s arts and how they impacted the development of Mérida. Merida Fest runs January 5-27.

100 year anniversary of Urangan Pier in Queensland
This jetty which started as a hope for this Fraser Coast region's local industry in shipping coal, sugar and other goods became a lifeline to the locals.  It once spanned 1107 metres out to sea but in the eighties over 200 metres of the pier were removed. Due to public outcry at the time 868 metres remains today. The pier which is popular for fishing, walking and sightseeing remains one of the longest in Australia.
Opened on March 3, 1917

10th anniversary: Mary Poppins Festival
In picture pretty Maryborough on the Fraser Coast there’s a special connection to the world's most famous Nanny, Mary Poppins. Author P L Travers was born in Maryborough in 1899. Travers was born in a bedroom of the second storey residence of the Australian Joint Stock Bank where her father was the manager. The bank building where they resided still remains today. Each year the streets of Maryborough transform into scenes from the novel. Think Cherry Tree Lane, dancing penguins, chimney sweeping challenges and grand parades... There is fun to be had for young and old.
The 2-week festival occurs on June 23- July 9.

50th Anniversary of Che Guevara’s death

A big milestone for many in Latin America particularly in Cuba and Bolivia, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Che Guevara’s death. Although Che is often most associated with Cuba, in fact it was in the remote and almost-inaccessible jungle of southern Bolivia that he was captured and killed in 1967.  Che remains an iconic figure across the world.  Niche tour operators like Real World Holidays will be running a series of tours taking people to Bolivia to visit all the sites associated with Che there.

European Capitals of Culture
The prestigious title is shared by two cities: Aarhus, Denmark and Pafos, Cyprus.
In Aarhus, Denmark the theme is ‘Let’s Rethink.’ Expect year-long festivities with four mega highlights, one of them called the“13 ‘full moon’ experiences. http://www.aarhus2017.dk/en/

In addition, Aarhus and the Central Denmark Region have been awarded the prestigious title of European Region of Gastronomy. It’s the first time that a region is granted both of these titles at the same time. With outstanding fresh ingredients and new restaurants, bars and food markets adding to its culinary prowess, the region continues to gather international acclaim for its restaurants and annual food festival.

In Cyprus, legend has it that Aphrodite, mythical goddess of love and beauty, landed at Pafos when she emerged from the sea, creating a place of worship that lured many Ancient Greeks to its shores. Now over 3,000 years later, Pafos has been blessed with another pilgrimage-worthy title, that of European Capital of Culture for 2017. Discover its ‘Open-Air Factory of Culture,’ where everyone can share their experiences at each site of interest, alongside a programme of activities at museums, theatres and galleries throughout the ancient town.

300TH anniversary of Empress Maria Theresa’s birth
Strategist, mother and reformer, it’s difficult to fathom all the firsts and historical legacies from this Habsburg royal and only woman ruler in the 650 year Habsburg dynasty reign. But somehow she managed to change the ebb and flow of history. She married Francis I, the Holy Roman Emperor and they had 16 kids, of which only 10 survived. Included in the royal baby brood was daughter Marie Antoinette. Various exhibitions are planned.
March 15-November 29

200th anniversary of Silent Night’s musical composition
It came upon a midnight clear, in a quaint chapel deep in the heart of Oberndorf bei Salzburg. Known as the Silent Night Chapel, visit the location of the world’s most popular Christmas carol, Silent Night. While the lyrics were written in 1816 by Joseph Mohr, the music was composed the following year with its debut performance in 1818. Today the classic carol is sung in 143 languages performed worldwide.

150th anniversary of Johann Strauss Junior’s Blue Danube Waltz
It’s time to fete the Waltz King who created the Blue Danube Waltz in 1867 and by doing so he made famous the “one, two, three, one, two three” rhythm waltzed throughout the dance halls of the world.

175th anniversary of Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra
One of the finest orchestras in the world, and ambassador of Viennese music worldwide, the beloved Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra whom many know via its renowned New Year’s Eve concerts broadcast over 90 countries to 50 million TV viewers around the world celebrates 175 years in performing music.

FINLAND’S Centennial #finland100
The Finns are starting the revelling with a New Year’s bash that promises night revellers with their choice of a sensational ribbon of Northern Lights viewing in Lapland or a bonanza of technicolour fireworks across the country.
The historical date: Dec 6, 1917

Fatima: 100 years
Faith-based travellers will seek out this centennial year in which the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is also known as Our Lady of Fatima were first seen by three shepherd children back in 1917. Known everywhere as one of the most important – and visited – religious sites in the world, the sacred destination is located 90 minutes from the Lisbon airport. Our Lady of Fatima attracts millions of Christian pilgrims from all over the world.

40 years: Three Michelin Star Marquis
Legendary Chef Michel Guerard  of the wonderful Les Pres d’Eugenie in southwest France will be celebrating 40 years of Three Michelin Stars.  There are only two chefs in the world that have held their three stars for longer, so this is a mammoth anniversary for him and the hotel restaurant.

A Year of Literary Greats
Great Britain’s gushing over its stellar year in literature where some of the greats are being feted. There’s the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes short story, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Scottish author and physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published in 1892.

Jane Austen fans will pay homage to the Queen of chic lit whose passing 200 years ago on July 18, 1817 will not go unnoticed.  To mark the 200th anniversary (www.janeausten200.co.uk) of her death, Austen fans can visit Jane Austen’s former home in Chawton, near Alton in Hampshire, south England around an hour by train from London. Here, everything will gear-up for the 2017 ‘Jane Austen 200’ commemorations, as well as in wider Hampshire.  

Pottermania gets a big boost. J.K. Rowling’s first novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone which spawned a whole new generation of lit lovers celebrates 20 years since its making. To celebrate the anniversary, The British Library in London is launching a new exhibition about the magic of Harry Potter set to open on 20 October 2017.  

UK City of Culture 2017: Hull, Yorkshire
Hull has been anointed as the UK City of Culture. Organisers have separated the year into four different “Seasons,” each with its own theme: Made in Hull (January – March), Roots and Routes (April – June), Freedom (July – September), Tell The World (October – December).  Watch for the hosting of the Turner Prize ceremony, regaled as one of the biggest events in British art to be held at Hull’s Ferens Art Gallery.

Scotland declares 2017 as the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
In Scotland the past seems so close you can almost feel it swirling around you. Epic landscapes were carved out by icy glaciers millennia ago, towering castles have stood for centuries and mesmerising stories, traditions and legends have been passed down for generations.

The bridge at Carrbridge – 300th anniversary
The town of Carrbridge is famous for the 1717 packhorse bridge, one of the most iconic landmarks in the Cairngorms National Park. The bridge was built so that residents could carry coffins across the water when the river was in spate.  During the summer months, hardy locals leap off the bridge into the icy depths below to cool off.  Incidentally Carrbridge is also famous for the annual Golden Spurtle World Porridge Championships!

Rob Roy – 200th anniversary
It’s been 200 years since the publication of the Walter Scott historical page-turner Rob Roy. Written in 1817 the epic saga which has been reworked as a good US Hollywood blockbuster has many crowd pleasing spin-offs. Among them: The Rob Roy Way

70th anniversary of Edinburgh Festivals
Led by the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festivals were born in 1947 as a platform to celebrate art and culture and to bring nations together once again after global conflict. For 70 years that inspiration has been sustained, making Edinburgh and its festivals an unparalleled destination for visitors, performers, artists and thinkers from all over the globe. In 2017, the 12 major festivals of Edinburgh will mark this special 70th anniversary by transforming the historic city like never before with music, science, film, art, theatre, dance, literature and storytelling, as its festivals continue to dream, reflect, invent and celebrate – while looking forward to another 70 years.

Year of Legends
In a year-long ode to its epic myths past present and future, think dragons, princesses, warriors, Wales is saluting 2017 in the “Year of Legends.” Expect everything from the legends of the mighty King Arthur to the life and works of novelist and short story writer Roald Dahl who was born in Wales.



Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

Read more from Ilona Kauremszky

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